Breastfeeding trust hormone clue

Scientists have for the first time shown how a "trust" hormone is released in the brains of breastfeeding mothers.

It is further proof that breastfeeding promotes the maternal bond through a biochemical process.

The team at Warwick University said the hormone oxytocin was known to be released during breastfeeding but the mechanism in the brain was unclear. Oxytocin also produces contractions during labour and causes milk to be "let down" from the mammary glands.

The hormone is produced in the hypothalamus - the part of the brain that controls body temperature, thirst, hunger, anger and tiredness. It has been shown to promote feelings of trust and confidence and to reduce fear.

Co-ordination
The study, published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, found that in response to a baby suckling, specialised neurons in the mothers' brain start to release the hormone from the nerve endings.

But surprisingly oxytocin is also released from the part of the cell called the dendrite which is usually the part of a neurone which receives, rather than transmits information.

Source - BBC